Children’s book award winners

Rebecca
Stead’s “When You Reach Me” and Jerry Pinkney’s “The Lion and
the Mouse,” two highly praised books for young people that draw upon famous
stories, have received the top U.S. prizes in children’s literature.

Stead’s
intricate, time-travelling narrative set in 1970s Manhattan, which was inspired
in part by Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” won the John
Newbery Medal for best children’s book. The Randolph Caldecott prize for
picture books was given to Pinkney’s wordless telling of the classic Aesop
fable.

The
awards were announced in Boston at the American Library Association’s annual
midwinter meeting.

The
Newbery and Caldecott, both founded decades ago, bring prestige and the hope of
higher sales to children’s authors. Previous winners such as “A Wrinkle in
Time” and Louis Sachar’s “Holes” have become standards, but more
recent picks have been criticized by librarians as being too difficult
(“Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village,” by
Laura Amy Schlitz) or for having inappropriate content (Susan Patron’s
“The Higher Power of Lucky”).

This
year’s winners were considered leading contenders.

Stead’s
book, the adventures of a sixth-grader named Miranda, was praised by The New York
Times as a “taut novel,” in which “every word, every sentence,
has meaning and substance.”

Elizabeth
Bird of the School Library Journal called “When You Reach Me” among
“the best children’s books I have ever read” and cited Pinkney, a
five-time runner-up for the Caldecott, for creating “wordless picture
gold.”

Each
is among the top 100 sellers on Amazon.com.

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